Pasighat – ( Maksam Tayeng ) In a very saddening turn up of the situations for the farmers of East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh, a new kind of pest White-backed plant hopper (WBPH) is raiding crops and causing extensive damage to the paddy fields across the major rice producing areas like Pasighat circle, Mebo Sub-Division, Ruksin Sub-Division, Yagrung and BIlat circle here in East Siang District, Geku in Upper Siang District and Kangkong Parbuk areas under Lower Dibang Valley districts.
As per experts like Talo Moyong, Master in Agriculture and Entomology alumni of College of Horticulture and Forestry, Pasighat, WBPH is one of the most widespread pests out of all the 21 pests of paddy. Both the nymphs (immature stage) and adults of the pest suck plant sap from the leaf sheath region (above water surface but below leaf blade) and tend to congregate near it. The leaves of the damaged plants will turn yellow, starting from tip and then later on to rust red colour. In severe cases, the damaged plants usually dry up and die, which results in a brownish hue appearance called “hopper burn”. Even if the plant survives, it will not be able to produce ears or panicles, if control measures are not taken in time.
“In order to control the pest we should take up preventive measures from the nursery stage itself. Since WBPH first appears in low population during June – July, the control is much easier then. For this seed should be treated or mixed with Thiamethoxam25 WG @ 4g/kg of seed before sowing or may be treated with imidacloprid 17.8 WS@ 5-8g/kg of seed”, suggests Moyong to the farmers to beat the pest raid of the paddy fields. Though these control measures are proven effective, their implementation has come rather late due to which large areas of paddy fields have already been damaged which has cost huge loss to the farmers of this region. This will definitely cause a reduction in rice yield, which may lead to increase in the price of food grains. Generally, WBPH infestation is easy to manage if detected early and with proper implementation of above mentioned control measures, said Moyong who also appealed to the state government to pay some serious attention to the problems faced by farmers and take necessary action to prevent the losses and to protect the state agriculture.
Meanwhile, one of the farmers from Borguli village, one Tokbom Rome narrated his ordeal of almost half of the entire paddy fields damaged by WBPH pests due to which he is worried of shortages of ration in the coming year. “Around 3 acres of my paddy field near the village has been supporting our ration needs of family all these years, but this year’s damage of paddy is making me worried as there is less ray of hope from the state government to compensate the loss”, added Rome from his field while taking this reporter in the field. The same was also reported from Kangkong village under Roing circle in Lower Dibang Valley. One Raja Tayeng said that, his field is extensively damaged by the similar pest raid and he has appealed to the state agriculture department to make necessary arrangements for compensating the loss.
When contacted, District Agriculture Officer of East Siang District, Ajit Pao said that the department of agriculture is already taking up enough measures to control the pest raids of crops. “We have already distributed around 200 nos of spray machines, more than 500 ltrs of liquid medicines and also creating awareness among the farmers to tackle with the WBPH pests infection to the paddy”, added Pao.